Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Broadside


A weekly look at the top (and bottom) five in Culture, Politics and Sports

Hits:

1. Nice work this week by Canada’s only NBA team (Winning five in a row). The Toronto Raptors are rapidly approaching securing home court in the first round of the playoffs. So many teams have the opportunity to control their own destiny, and blow it. (See Toronto Maple Leafs below)


2. The Ottawa Senators look to be rounding into form at the right time. This does not look at all like the team that lost four straight years to the Maple Leafs. Gritty, physical play with a lot of great work down low. Despite blowing a third period lead in Game Two to the Penguins, I still think this may be the year they get to the Finals. Unfortunately, I’ll have to listen to all the jabbering from their fans for the two months if they do. The Blue Jays have opened the season 6-3, but this team is still going nowhere. Same old story. Good bats, not enough pitching. But for now, nice start, guys.


3. Congratulations to Friday Night Lights for a great first season. (Wednesdays, 8pm, NBC) This show, about a high school football team and the small town it represents, is the best drama on television. And its best kept secret. Fortunately, it looks like NBC will renew it for next year despite the show's mediocre ratings. Drama is hard to do on television. That's why procedurals (Law & Order, Shark, CSI) and soaps (Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy) are so popular. It's hard to develop and maintain great storylines and authentic characters through the press of a tight schedule. Friday Night Lights did it every week. Early Emmy consideration should go to Connie Brisson and Kyle Chandler for their great work.


4. Facebook is the latest craze on the Internet, and while I was originally skeptical about it, I finally signed up this week. I now understand its popularity. It’s easier to navigate than MySpace, has greater controls for protecting yourself, and makes it easy to reconnect with old friends. In five days I’ve found a number of old buddies I went to school with back in the day. Somehow Facebook feels more like a community than MySpace… maybe it’s because we’re using our real names. At any rate, I’m loving it…


5. I finally finished The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate. This book is a wonderful achievement. Do you know who Henry Ward Beecher is? Neither did I. But in the 19th Century he was the first national, mega-church pastor who helped bring an end to slavery. He was a personal friend to Abraham Lincoln, as well as a litany of other famous figures (Mark Twain). In the end, he was brought down by his apparently numerous affairs. This book is a wonderful journey through a formative and tumultuous time. Politics. Sex. Religion. Slavery. Suffrage. We tend to think of the world in generational spurts. Applegate's book reminds us that human nature hasn't changed. On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoyed a look at the origins of the Evangelical Movement. This book is a must read for all aspiring pastors. It is a poignant reminder of what happens when our faith gets lost in commercialism and materialism.


Misses:

1. The Toronto Maple Leafs missed the playoffs again, and have no one to blame but themselves. They had a lot of injuries this year, but I’m still not sure what Ferguson is doing. They don’t look close to being a contender. Year after year their fans support them, and it's obvious that ownership does not care. That's what happens when the Ontario Teacher's Pension Fund runs one of the truly historic institutions in Canadian history. Almost makes me long for the whacky antics of Harold Ballard...

2. What’s wrong with Major League Baseball? Barry Bonds is 18 home runs away from the career record, one of the most important records in baseball, and they are going to try downplay his record?! This is just such a bald display of hypocrisy. Baseball turned a blind eye to steroids for years (since the 1980’s) because they wanted the home runs, and now they’re “stuck?” No they’re not. Bonds never tested positive, no matter what other evidence they apparently have. (I read Book of Shadows, seems pretty clear that Bonds did take steroids) He has never tested positive or even been suspended. Therefore, baseball owes him the respect he’s earned for surpassing a great record. Now a lot of people don’t like Bonds, but you can’t create a problem, and than ignore one of your players just because he takes advantage of it. You can't ignore Bonds simply because it's a bad “PR situation and a lot of sports writers don’t like the guy”. I hate to bring race into it, but I wonder if this would be happening if Mark McGwire (who’s white) was 18 home runs from the record. Just wodnering…

3. I finally stuck with American Idol this year. I’ve always loved watching the early shows, with some genuine moments of “gosh, I made it”, along with all the loonies who come out in the first few rounds. You know who I’m talking about. The ones who either don’t have any honest family members or friends to help them see the truth when it comes to their talent, or are simply too stupid to realize they can’t sing. Listen, some pieces of self-awareness should be easier than others. (Like being able to recognize whether or not you can actually sing) I especially liked that one great contestant who tearfully tried to explain to the judges that she would be the first American Idol winner who couldn’t sing at all…How surprising then, with seven people left, one of those ridiculous early contestants is still around. And Sanjaya, who can’t sing or seem to perceive that he’s a national joke, seems to be getting dumber each week. I’d feel sorry for the kid, but any grasp of humility seems to vanished in a puff of national attention as he’s merged into a No Lights, Big City robotron with hair. People keep telling me he’s young, but I work with teenagers. Most of them would have him for lunch. Watching him “evolve” is an absolute case study for how our culture breeds idiots… Go Melinda…

4. Stephane Dion is not a national leader. Well, I suppose that’s not a hot news flash if you’ve been following the federal Liberals at all these days. But his latest “move” at the top of the Liberal food chain has got the bloggers yapping. Okay, so let me see if I got this right. The national party leader of the Liberals, Canada’s predominantly governing party over the past 100 years, will not run a candidate against Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green party, in the next federal election. The same Green Party that has never won a seat in the House of Commons. Ever. Stephane Dion is the Prime Minister in waiting? Even Scott “beer and popcorn” Reid looked a little mystified trying to defend Dion on Mike Duffy Live this week. Wow… Here’s to hoping that Dion remains waiting for a long time, or at least until the Liberals replace him with a real alternative… or at the very least, someone who speaks intelligible English…

5. “Ottawa Senator Fans, Please Show Some Class.” That was the headline for a recent Ottawa Citizen article about Senator fans who are booing Sidney Crosby, the world’s best young hockey player every time he touches the puck during their opening round series. Why are they booing him? Because he’s good. And somehow, that's supposed to make sense? I was having this discussion with a friend of mine two days before the article came out. It had little effect on the populace however, as the Sens fans booed Crosby even louder in Game Two. They were still booing him when he scored the game winner in the third period. So, Sens fans, here’s what you accomplished today. Two things. You showed no class, and you gave the kid some juice to perform. Maybe you want to save your energy for the all night talk show after you fall out of the playoffs. Sometimes you reap what you sow...

Have a nice Sunday everyone…